‘Entertaining, empathetic, tragic and above all musical' - Die Tageszeitung

Anna Karenina...

– although with a different text and a different melody

Clemens Sienknecht, Barbara Bürk, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg

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‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ The German theatre makers Barbara Bürk and Clemens Sienknecht are famous for their clever, comic theatre adaptations of literary classics. Having tackled Effi Briest, they have now had a go at Anna Karenina, the Russian heroine of Leo Tolstoy’s monumental 19th century novel. The book has been recast as a sparkling 1970s and 1980s radio show. Listen to music by Grandmaster Flash, the Eurythmics and the Steve Miller Band, and see how love ruins Anna Karenina. This is a refined and irresistible theatrical comedy.

background information

Directing partners Clemens Sienknecht and Barbara Bürk have made a name for themselves in recent years with their engaging and highly entertaining 'Verfremdungstheater'. Their recent series of shows devoted to the greatest literary heroines of the 19th century

has become a huge success. Last year’s Effi Briest –allerdings mit anderem Text und auch anderer Melodie (although with a different text and a different melody, 2015) received an enthusiastic reception when it was performed in the Netherlands. The NRC Handelsblad described it as, 'one hundred delightful minutes of high-voltage comedy'. Now the duo, both members of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, is back with Anna Karenina – although with a different text and a different melody. Same sort of story, but indeed, with completely different words and music. 

Once again, audiences will enjoy a live-radio broadcast produced on stage, this time devoted exclusively to Lev Tolstoy's heroine, Anna Karenina. Radio Karenina inimitably combines a radio play, a literary narrative, bizarre jingles, pop music from the 1970s and 80s, and eye-catching costumes, all with an added layer of irony and an infallible instinct for intelligent meta-literary theatre.

A very brief synopsis of the great novel: the married Anna Karenina falls hopelessly in love with the wealthy bachelor Count Alexei Vronsky, and she realises she no longer loves her husband. All this is surrounded by a cast of supporting characters suffering from their own amorous tribulations.

Radio Karenina lovingly pokes fun at Tolstoy's 19th-century realism and the story’s complexities. At the same time, the play is Sienknecht and Bürk's tribute not only to a legendary literary character who has fascinated audiences for 140 years, but also to the timeless pop music of the seventies. This Anna Karenina’s adulterously swinging soundtrack contains numbers from the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Pink Floyd, and Michael Jackson, because nothing is better for dancing than forbidden love.



The Deutsches Schauspielhaus is the most important playhouse in Hamburg, and also the name of the building’s resident theatre company. The company has been under the direction of theatre 

manager Karin Beier since 2013. Well-known directors who have produced work for them include Christoph Marthaler, René Pollesch, Katie Mitchell, Frank Castorf, Karin Henkel, Simon Stone and Michael Thalheimer. The company regularly appears in the Netherlands, often performing at the Holland Festival. 

Actor and director Clemens Sienknecht (1964) didn’t complete his studies in music and sport. He played in various bands and was a pianist in several theatre productions. Since 1993, he has regularly collaborated with Christoph Marthaler in productions including Faust, Wurzel aus 1+2 (1993) and Stunde Null oder die Kunst des Servierens (1996) and Heimweh & Verbrechen (2014) at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus. Together with Barbara Bürk, he created Effi Briest– but with another text and another melody in 2015. This work was selected for Berlin's Theatertreffen festival in 2016. Sienknecht also performed at the Schauspielhaus in the plays Glaube Liebe Hoffnung and Die Wehleider, both directed by Christoph Marthaler. He has also had roles in Der Zauberer von Oz and Alice im Wunderland, two youth performances directed by Barbara Bürk. He composed the music for both of those shows. Anna Karenina – although with a different text and a different melody is the second part of a trilogy. 

Barbara Bürk (1965) studied stage direction and worked for some time as an actress. From 1995 until 1998 she was an assistant director at the Deutsche Schauspielhaus in Hamburg, working with such people as Frank Castorf, Christoph Marthaler, Johann Kresnik and Dimiter Gotscheff. Her directorial debut took place in 1998 at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus with Erklärt Pereira. She has since been invited to direct productions at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Theater Basel, Schauspiel Hannover and the Staatsschauspiel Dresden. Her production Hotel Paraiso was selected for Theatertreffen in 2005. She recently directed the youth productions, Der Zauberer von Oz and Alice im Wunderland at the Junges Schauspielhaus Hamburg.In 2015 she created Effi Briest– although with a different text and a different melody in collaboration with director Clemens Sienknecht, a work which was selected for Berlin's Theatertreffen festival in 2016.



Barbara Bürk, Sybille Meier
Leo Tolstoj
Barbara Bürk, Clemens Sienknecht
set design, costume
Anke Grot
Sybille Meier
Björn Salzer
Finn-Corvin Gallowsky, Katja Haase
Yorck Dippe, Ute Hannig, Markus John, Jan-Peter Kampwirth, Friedrich Paravicini, Clemens Sienknecht, Michael Wittenborn
Deutsches SchausSpielHaus Hamburg

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